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Another new furniture shop #1: Starting a new furniture shop

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Blog entry by Don K. posted 05-06-2009 12:55 AM 3802 reads 0 times favorited 20 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I have never in my life done a “Blog” before, but I have thoroughly enjoyed reading through many of the blogs on LJ’s. How you share your thoughts, plans, hopes, mistakes etc etc etc. makes for some very interesting and enjoyable reading. So as boring as mine may be, I have decided to put down in print all my planning, dreams, hopes victories AND failures as I start down the road of starting a new stand alone business.

Many of you know That I have been in the remodeling business since I was old enough to swing a hammer. I started by helping my Dad, worked through high school, and put myself through collage with it. I am not a larger contractor, but this business has been very good for me and my family, and has grown to the point where I now have a couple of crews that do most of the work. Leaving me to spend more time with my family and in my ever growing work shop, actually, other than bidding jobs, and doing the paper work, pay roll, final inspection and billing, about the only time I get hands on any more with the remodeling is when something fun comes up such as Kitchen cabinets, built-ins or a piece of custom woodwork. (And for those who are considering doing remodeling, this is a GREAT time to get into it imo. Many people who would buy a new house are now, because of the economy, remodeling what they have.)

I have always enjoyed making a piece of one of a kind furniture…just the pure joy of having nothing more than a pile of rough lumber sitting in my shop floor and a idea rolling around in the empty cavern on my shoulders, going through the process of planning, designing, figuring out impossible angles and even the mistakes…yes, I said I even enjoyed “Some” of the mistakes. We all learn through mistakes…and I have learned from some whoppers !!! But in the end, standing and looking at a piece of furniture that days/weeks or even months before, started out as nothing more than a pile of lumber and a idea is now a piece of pride that someone “May” pass on from mother to daughter or Father to son for generations to come (or may be sold in the next garage sale, lol) but to me, each and every piece that I have worked on..is a work of love…and like a child you have raised and sent out into the world, knowing you have done your best in every way to prepare them for the future…. When I send a piece of, in my opinion, heirloom quality furniture out of my shop, as silly as this may sound, I almost have the same feelings. I have put in my time, sweat, work, love…maybe even a small piece of my soul into that piece, and like a child, I have a hard time letting it go.

Well enough mushy stuff and back to the new business. As I said I have always been a remodeler, and when I was lucky, I would be asked by a customer to build a custom piece. A entertainment center, built in book shelves, maybe a hand carved bedroom set etc. I have also built almost all of our homes furniture, and many pieces for my family and friends. But it has always been more of a hobby and a work of love than a job. But through word of mouth, and friends seeing pieces I have done, more and more people over time have asked me to build more and more.

So it has now gotten to the point that it is no longer a hobby, but fast becoming a full time job. I have played with the idea for years of doing this full time, but was always afraid to “Pull the trigger”. While I have always been able to “Get by” with the tools I have (contractors tools for remodeling), to do the quality work I want, and do it on a consistent basis and to make my time in the shop more profitable, I need to do some serious upgrades on many of my tools. So I am just going to “Pull the trigger” and do it all at one time. I just bought a new 8 inch Grizzly jointer about two weeks ago (which I love by the way). But instead of ordering one tool at a time, I am ordering a new Grizzly table saw, 20 inch spiral planer, and 17 inch band saw next week. (Waiting for a clients check to come in next week and stay out of the savings).

I don’t know if anyone will even be interested in reading this in the future. But if this is received well, I will update you as the tools come in, redoing my shop to be more productive, and walk through with you as I try and make a go of it.

My next entry will be when the new tools arrive and setting them up, and after that, I have four large commissioned piece’s of work to start with. So I invite you to read along and offer advice when you see me about to fall flat on my butt.

I would also like to thank Todd A. Clippinger, A1Jim, tool dad and a few others for their advice and help.

-- Don S.E. OK



20 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112883 posts in 2325 days


#1 posted 05-06-2009 01:10 AM

GO Don Go
I enjoyed your blog . A lot of similarities in our background except the contracting and woodwork part.
Just kidding I’m a 20+ contractor and have a wood shop but I went for it when I first went into contracting so they both kinda grew together. I would sure like a couple crews I could just let go. I’m really happy for you and your upcoming commissions and new toys and cabinet shop adventures I hope it all goes smoothly .Look forward to more updates. Your more than welcome for what little I had to offer in the way of suggestions
Jim

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View cabinetmaster's profile

cabinetmaster

10874 posts in 2306 days


#2 posted 05-06-2009 01:12 AM

Great. I’d like to see more of this as you get your business started. Glad to see that you are changing from remodelor to furniture builder. I love cabinet and furniture building as well. You’ll enjoy looking at some of my projects and more to be posted soon.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View Don K.'s profile

Don K.

1075 posts in 2074 days


#3 posted 05-06-2009 01:16 AM

Thanks for the encouraging words guys, and cabinetmaster….I did not know it was you, but as soon as I read your comment, I clicked on your home page to look at your work. I have already drooled at some of your work, especially this one..

http://lumberjocks.com/projects/15043

-- Don S.E. OK

View Lenny's profile

Lenny

1295 posts in 2275 days


#4 posted 05-06-2009 01:36 AM

OK Don, we are all savvy enough to play along with your story for when the lady of your life reads this blog, but between us woodworkers we all know it is just a ruse so you can buy a bunch of new tools! Just kidding Don. Best wishes as you start this new venture. For someone who has been at this for so long and who seems so passionate about it, I can only see success in your future. By the way, a Grizzly table saw? What happen to the PM2000? I thought we were going to share a table saw birthday.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2570 days


#5 posted 05-06-2009 01:36 AM

It is always an exciting time when new tools come rolling in. I am glad to read about this happening to you as well. So go ahead and blog about it. You can bet I and a lot of others here will read it with interest. You will be actually doing what, for a number of us, is only a dream. I wish you nothing but the best in your “new” endeavor.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Don K.'s profile

Don K.

1075 posts in 2074 days


#6 posted 05-06-2009 02:16 AM

Thanks Lenny and Scott. Lenny, I know I know, you caught me, busted lol. As far as the PM2000 vs. Grizzly, I have been MORE than happy with my new Grizzly jointer….and when I do the math, to buy a new Powermatic saw, planer and Bandsaw…even with the big sale going on at Woodcraft, I am looking at about $5000 more for the same three pieces of equipment over the Grizzly’s. If the three new pieces are the same quality and work as well as my new Jointer, I just can’t see spending the extra $$$$$ (Not if I want to stay married anyways)

-- Don S.E. OK

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

15076 posts in 2424 days


#7 posted 05-06-2009 03:29 AM

Good luck with your new venture! What are you going to do with your other business? Keep doing the same way?

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Don K.'s profile

Don K.

1075 posts in 2074 days


#8 posted 05-06-2009 03:48 AM

Topamax,
I am definitely keeping the old business…it pays the bills lol.

-- Don S.E. OK

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

15076 posts in 2424 days


#9 posted 05-06-2009 04:01 AM

I was wonderiing if youi are still going to maintain your duties while you start the new or hire another employee? I’ve never been very comfortable with anyone doing my estimating :-((

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Don K.'s profile

Don K.

1075 posts in 2074 days


#10 posted 05-06-2009 04:14 AM

I understand what you mean now. No, while some of my guys have been with me for a few years, and I totally trust one or two…it is still MY business and my reputation on the line. I will still bid every job, do spot inspections during the job and a finale inspection before I bill the client. I said earlier that I do all the paper work/billing, but that is not totally true, my wife helps me out tremendously when it comes to that stuff, and I have a great accountant. So between the two of them…THAT part I may be able to let go of the reigns a bit.

-- Don S.E. OK

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

15076 posts in 2424 days


#11 posted 05-06-2009 08:03 AM

What kinds of pieces are the first 4 jobs?

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Don K.'s profile

Don K.

1075 posts in 2074 days


#12 posted 05-06-2009 08:42 AM

One is the conference table I was telling you about for a law firm. Another is a huge built in entertainment center/wall unit. Another is a complete office for a local business man, a gift from his wife, desk, book shelves, tables etc, his wife wants all four walls to be floor to ceiling shelves, her exact words were “I want it to look like a New York city office with a big powerful desk” (Whatever that means). And the forth, which I just got yesterday, is from a large local church. They are about to do a major remodel on their sanctuary which seats about a 1000 people and they asked me to design and build everything from the pulpit back. Kind of another remodel, but everything is 1960’s looking, very dated. So I get to design and make a new pulpit, stage, choir loft, piano pit and all wood raised panel walls behind that. (This will be a job I use my crews on, but I get to do all the fun stuff).

This last one actually works out great, because a Church, like the Government, has to make plans, put together committees, have fund raisers etc. So their remodel will be in stages and my part will be about a year from now. Gives me plenty of time to do other projects, make plans, and prepare for the job.

-- Don S.E. OK

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

15076 posts in 2424 days


#13 posted 05-06-2009 08:58 AM

Too bad you didn’t get the pews too :-)) You could, then, go into logging too!!

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Don K.'s profile

Don K.

1075 posts in 2074 days


#14 posted 05-06-2009 09:03 AM

lol, no kidding, glad I didn’t to be honest, I’m a nervous wreck as it is. Afariad my plate is a little to full.

-- Don S.E. OK

View ND2ELK's profile

ND2ELK

13495 posts in 2522 days


#15 posted 05-06-2009 06:58 PM

Hi Don

Enjoyed your blog. Looking forward to see more on your new equipment and shop. I am in the process off equiping my new 14 X 21 shop now. Wish it could have been bigger, but one has to work with what space they have. Check it out and see what you think. Not complaining at all. It is kind of nice to start out again with everything new. Any comments or suggestions would be greatly appriciated.

God Bless
tom

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

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